I’ve held off writing this for a while for a number of reasons. First of all I wanted to watch the film a number of times (I’m on 10) before I put anything down. Secondly because like a number of other well-known fandoms, the Marvel/MCU fandom can be very toxic at times. The last time I posted my thoughts on a film I liked more than others, seemed to I got lots of hate.
I want to make one distinction here:- The Black Widow I am talking about is the MCU one played by Scarlett Johansson, not the Marvel Comics character. Whilst there are many, many similarities there are also a few differences and that is ok too. Just like transferring a book to a film, there are always differences. The MCU has tried its best to honour the source material for all its characters and, in my opinion, have done a damn fine job. Yes I’m biased as I’m a Black Widow fan!
Warning-Long Read! (Извините)
The Black Widow movie is a film I have waited for for a very long time. From Natasha’s introduction in Iron Man 2 right up to the recent films I’ve always felt that she was one of the more complex characters in the whole franchise.
Originally I had it in my head that Nat would never make it to the main group, she’d be relegated to another S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. I was happy to see that I was wrong and that Nat would go on to be a main player in what was to come.
From the very beginning we knew she wasn’t your average agent. The way she took down Happy Hogan in Iron Man 2 was one of the funniest moments. There were times when Nat came across as weak and vulnerable, but as we would find out, that was all part of her unique talents.
Then when the first Avengers movie came, out little hints were drooped about her backstory- Budapest/Budapesht (your choice of pronunciation 😉 ), Dreykov’s daughter, São Paulo, the hospital fire. These were all events used by Loki to taunt her when she said she had red in her ledger she wanted to wipe out.
Those little titbits plus the Red Room itself became of interest to many Black Widow fans and although the film doesn’t cover the last two, it does tell us lots about Nat and her early life, Budapest and of course, The Red Room which every comic fan should know about.
Current mental health issues prevent me from seeing the movie in the cinema on the big screen. Thankfully, Disney+ came to the rescue and I happily paid the £19.99 and settled down with some snacks to have my own little premiere.
We’re taken back to Ohio in 1995 where we meet a young Natasha, her sister Yelena and their parents Alexei and Melina. It becomes apparent that they are all part of an elaborate espionage plot to steal something and have to leave quickly, forcing an interesting car chase in which we see that young Nat has already had some training and that her “father” is also known as “The Red Guardian”, Russia’s first and only super-soldier. Once they have made their escape and met up with General Dreykov the “family” are split up with both girls being sent back to The Red Room.
Then we have was has to be one of the darkest, most powerful opening credits montage for any MCU film. It shows us a combination of girls being abducted and taken to the Red Room and those that were not chosen, disposed of. We also see Dreykov with many world leaders, showing he has a global influence.
The film picks up after the events of Civil War- both Steve Rogers and Nat are on the run so she takes up residence in a caravan watching James Bond films.
It’s never said but it’s implied that she is a big fan as she seems to know Moonraker word for word. I found this hilarious and I’m pretty sure that’s where she got the idea of her pose, after all, James Bond is one of the biggest posers out there!
Yelena meanwhile has become the most lethal of all the Black Widows but whilst on a mission she is sprayed with a chemical that releases Dreykov’s control over her. She is given a set of vials with the same chemical in.
Nat and Yelena eventually meet up in the Budapest safe-house and, after a rather physical sisterly reunion we find out more about the Red Room, which Nat thought she had already destroyed when she blew up a building with Dreykov’s daughter in, as part of a mission in her defection to S.H.I.E.L.D. . Natasha is shocked to hear that The Red Room still exists and that psychological conditioning is no longer used, but chemically induced control is instead.
Yelena and Nat set out to take down the Red Room once and for all with the help of their “father” Alexei, who they have to break out of prison, and Mamma Melina who still works for Dreykov. The final confrontation between Dreykov and Natasha is excellent, especially in the way the camera angle shifted according to who had the balance of power at the time. All of Nat’s talents at getting information from people without them realising it and then using that to flip the situation in her favour were so well done.
The plot to bring down the Red Room is the main point of the story. However, learning about what makes a family and that it’s ok to have more than one is also key- we learn that none of the family is biologically related, and that they were put together for the mission, though Yelena was too young to understand and believed they were her real family.
A reunion around a table shows us a very dysfunctional family- Alexei is more concerned with himself than anyone else, Yelena resents them all and Nat seems to have accepted it but that’s only on the surface. What follows reunites the family in a way none of them could have expected. By the end of the film they are a family but this time for real. Even Alexei and Melina admit that although they knew their family was a cover for the 3 year long mission, they actually had feelings for the girls and thought of them as their own.
A deep bond forms between Nat and Yelena, and at the end, when they part ways, Yelena gifts her vest, with many pockets, to Natasha- they part as sisters.
It was already announced a while ago that Yelena would be picking up the mantle of Black Widow but would need to go through a rough patch first. I’ll not spoil the end credit scene but it does link in well with one of the recent MCU streaming shows.
Yes, like any Avengers film it has the usual over the top fight scenes, car chases and so on, but that’s part of the fun of these films. Suspension of disbelief can be a great healer at times.
The acting was excellent all around with one exception. I’ve never been a fan of Ray Winston- he always plays his characters the same way no matter who they are supposed to be. General Dreykov was supposed to be the most powerful man in the world but came across as a dodgy, used car salesman from Yakutsk who spent too long working in a chop-shop in Whitechapel, in the East End of London before being deported. David Harbour was great as Alexei, both cocky, arrogant and emotional as well as incredibly funny.
However, Florence Pugh (who I loved in Midsommar even though it freaked me out), stole the movie. Her Russian accent, demeanour and sense of humour were spot-on. I am already anticipating Florence getting her own Black Widow film in a good few years.
Florence had some of the best lines in the film. My favourite was during the prison break scene when the helicopter she is flying almost crashes and she gives Nat a thumbs up and say “We’re both doing a really good job“. I don’t know why but it cracked me up! The constant mocking of Natasha’s “Superhero” pose and then trying it herself was perfect.
Near the end of Endgame, when the teams time-jump back to the current day with the infinity stones and its revealed to the others that Natasha is dead, Steve Rogers asks if she had any family- to which the answer was that The Avengers were her family.
Nat had spent 5 years waiting and hoping. Hoping for something to turn the mess around yet there was no mention of her other family. Whilst it’s not been revealed yet, in my mind they were dusted when Thanos snapped. I’d imagine she hadn’t told anyone else about Yelena and co because she didn’t want them being used as leverage against her.
Barton and Nat argued over who was going to make the sacrifice- I believe she chose to do so for 4 reasons.
- Clint had a family and she didn’t want them losing a father when the mission was complete.
- Nat had lost many of her Avengers family in ‘The Snap’ and wanted to make sure they came back
- She also wanted Alexei, Melina and Yelena back.
- Natasha had faith in her Avengers family to get the job done- they needed the soul stone and there was only one way to get it
So, with all that in mind, plus all the guilt she still felt about the things she did under Dreykov’s control and knowing that in giving her life, she could save those she loved, a far less daunting task in her head- she jumped.
If this is the last time we see Scarlett as Natasha then I’m happy with that. Her story was tied up nicely and she finally got her own film. With Phase 4 kicking off the Multiverse storyline though, I’m sure there will be chances not only for Scarlett, but for RDJ and Chris Evans to reprise their roles if they felt so inclined.
So to sum up, if you haven’t worked it out by now…..
Я ЛЮБЛЮ ЧЕРНУЮ ВДОВУ!
ЕЛЕНА КАЧАЕТСЯ И ИМЕЕТ ОТЛИЧНЫЙ ЖИЛЕТ С МНОГО КАРМАНОВ!
Check out some of these amazing posters from various parts of the world.